What is up with the Havre school board? Prior to the mill levy election back on May 3rd we saw countless articles about all the layoffs and program cuts that would be made if by chance the mill levy should fail. Then Election Day rolls around and Havre voters vote to pass the levies by very narrow margins. The schools official press statements say thanks but we are still going to have to cut to make the budget for next year but they can make it work thanks to the generosity of the voters.
The timeline of all these stories confuse me. First we hear all the doom and gloom financial stories leading up to the May 3rd election. Then we vote yes on a building “reserve” levy on Tuesday, May 3rd for $185,000. School officials decide to certify election results on Wed, May 4th. Then on Thursday May 5th they award a contract to install a storm drain with dubious benefit into the Highland Park School playground with a cost in excess of $150,000 not to mention landscaping and other work to be done by the school system personnel to complete the project. This seems to be in direct conflict with all the news reports claiming to be broke. What appears to have happened is that within 48 hours of the passage of the building reserve mill levy the school administration raced to get the money spent so we can claim poverty for the next mill levy election. Pockets filled with green on Tuesday – pockets emptied on Thursday faster than a kid in a candy store.
Now move forward to the school board meeting of May 11th. The HDN reports that the board elected Darlene Bricker as the new chair and they talked a bit about cyber-bullying. Although HDN reporter Zack White was in attendance at this meeting there was no report of the board’s discussion to provide raises to school administration people. Why do you suppose Zack left that little tidbit out of the news? Also reported in the HDN was the fact that current school clerk Zella Witter is retiring and will be replaced by Mike Arnold. Arnold moved here some time back from Malta to train for the job under Witter with a salary in the mid 30’s. What wasn’t reported in the HDN was that Witter earned in the mid $80’s so former board chairman Christianson thought Arnold’s salary should be immediately boosted to $65,000 or so to be more comparable to what former clerk Witter was earning. Now just a minute here while I think this over. Arnold moves here with a promise of a salary of $35,000 or so and is perfectly happy to take the job and now less than a year latter our (so broke that they may have to cut programs and lay off teachers) school board sees fit to double his salary? What is wrong with this picture?
We have been told by our sources at the school that this move is why former chairman Lee Christianson is now the FORMER chair. Why didn’t the HDN report this interesting little fact? Hopefully new chairman Bricker will use a little more common sense and remember that the taxpayers are struggling and it really isn’t the time to be granting big raises to administration employees.
The Corrector will continue in our quest to publish the school budget on our blog as soon as we can find the top-secret hiding place in which the board hides it from the public. Anyone with information as to the operations at the school drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org